What is Social Media?
Social media is the term given to the collection of online communication channels focused on creating an online social space for people to use. Whether you want to get involved with online political discussions, share holiday snaps, or film yourself pranking friends, social media has something for everyone.
The variety of social media platforms out there means that it has become hugely popular in today's culture. What started with online forums and blogs, has grown into continuous video and photo sharing. With the average person now spending 2 hours a day on social media – it is clearly a trend that is only going to continue growing.
What Does Social Media Do?
The platforms out there vary in terms of what kind of content you can share. This content can range from written posts on Facebook and Twitter, photos on Instagram and Snapchat, to videos on YouTube.
The personal aspect of the platforms varies too. Some sites are used for connecting with people you actually know (like friends and family), but some platforms are used by celebrities, and as a result, scrolling through social media can have the same sort of effect as flicking through a magazine to find out all the latest celeb gossip – another example of how the way we get our information is changing due to technology.
People use social media for both work and pleasure. Just like you can use social media to keep in touch with your loved ones, businesses can use it to build a strong relationship with their customers, as well as a healthy workforce through creating an employee/employer online community.
As traditional forms of marketing and promotion have become less effective, businesses can use social media in order to increase their exposure to potential customers. For example, brands using influential people such as reality stars and celebrities to endorse their products with sponsored social media posts. People can be highly influenced by what their favourite celebrities use, so brands use this for promotion.
As well as businesses using the traditional forms of social media to increase their exposure and maintain good customer relations, there are social media platforms out there for businesses to use. LinkedIn is the most established example of this. Set up in 2003, the site is used for professional networking where employers can post job roles and job seekers can post their CVs – a social network for the working world.
The Double-Edged Sword
Trolling and cybersecurity are the biggest problems caused by social media. The protection of a screen means that people use social media as a way of abusing others or exploiting them for financial gain. This is when the privacy settings come into their own so you can control who can see you, increasing your online security.
The obsession that people have with continuously scrolling through social media also has a massive impact on their mental health and self-esteem. The ability to connect with everyone you know is a double-edged sword as it can also lead to feeling inadequate as you find yourself in a constant state of comparing yourself to others.
Despite these dangers and problems with social media, the positive impact it has cannot be ignored. And if used correctly, you can maintain friendships, share your feelings and memories, and create an online life to look back on in the future.